Saturday, 17 September 2011

Jago & Litefoot Complete Series

The Mahogany Murders: The Mahogany Murders is just about perfect. There is an evocative location (‘eating hot chestnuts out of wet paper bags’) and two of the most accomplished storytellers (the excitable and verbose Jago and the silky voiced Professor Litefoot) making this a genuine pleasure to listen to. Andy Lane’s script is full of nourishing descriptions and beautiful language and whilst his story is pretty throwaway the atmosphere and nostalgia it generates demands that this becomes a series. A beautifully directed slice of magic: 10/10

The Bloodless Soldier: Already Jago, Litefoot and Ellie feel like characters I know intimately and that I have been listening to their adventures for many years, such is the brio and confidence with how this story is played. The Bloodless Soldier taps a vein of something warm and nostalgic whilst at the same time turning a corner and heading of into something fresh and new. This really does feel like the series we were denied on the television in the 70’s with a post millennium exciting approach to the storytelling. Tension bubbles to the surface throughout this tale leading to a conclusion that is unnerving and dramatic and leaving some interesting threads to be picked up at a later date. It’s a great universe to set stories in and these are fantastic characters to drive the comedy and drama. A great start: 9/10

The Bellova Doll: Alan Barnes has written an extremely intelligent script which cleverly takes a supernatural premise of a man rising from the grave and then plots a story with cunning details that convinces the reader it is genuinely so before revealing how we have been hoodwinked with a magicians flourish. Much like The Mahogany Murderers the pair of intrepid investigations regale us with their individual but equally compelling tales, they approach storytelling from very different angles but together make a very fulsome tale. The direction is faultless, never shying away from the terrifying reality of the Club and its member’s deception and the production values continue to shine (especially the music which really gives these stories a style of their own). The Bellova Doll provides an hour of shocks and thrills and another exemplary piece of entertainment with our two chums: 10/10

The Spirit Trap: Another science fiction delight dressed up as a supernatural chiller, this series has yet to produce one wrong move. Jonathan Morris’ script is rich with character and delicious dialogue and the story takes some delightfully unexpected twists with give the initially simple story some real punch. What starts as a simple ghost story has the most potentially disastrous consequences for humanity and goes to prove that this series can accommodate some intriguing dangers from the future. John Ainsworth’s direction is particularly strong, he has always excelled at the more atmospheric dramas and he has plenty of scope here to chill us to the bone. The Spirit Trap does not quite clinch full marks because it wasn’t quite as immaculate as the last tale but it still provided plenty of fantastic moments and a pleasingly eerie atmosphere: 9/10

The Similarity Engine: What a shame that the last story of the run should be the weakest as it polishes off this extraordinary box set with a sigh rather than a final hurrah. Its not badly written by any means but it lacks the bubbling humour and drama of the other releases and it feels like everything is being told in exposition rather than us actually experiencing any of the events. Jago seems most unlike his usual magniloquent self but this does give Litefoot a chance to steal the limelight for a change. Tulp transpires to be far less interesting than we were led to believe and his scheme to take over the minds of people and change the fate of the world was all dealt with in The Spirit Trap. On the plus side the production values are as strong as ever and the dialogue sparkles. A disappointing end to a splendid series: 6/10


Litefoot & Sanders: From the terrifying opening scene to the devastating final twist, the opener for season two of Jago & Litefoot matches the superb quality of the first year. The performances of Benjamin, Baxter and Collings are sublime and Justin Richards’ flair with luminescent loquacious language makes this an enchanting experience. Like The Bloodless Soldier this is a quiet opener but it is bursting with wonderful character moments and real menace and atmosphere. Big Finish has struck gold with this series: 9/10

The Necropolis Express: I have been waiting an age to hear a Mark Morris audio (I haven’t reached his Dalek story yet) and he doesn’t disappoint, this is as macabre and ghoulish as I was expecting and then some! It starts with a very simple premise of seeing Ellie to her grave and weaves through some very funny scenes of Jago trying to keep brave in a ghastly graveyard, the return of an old friend of Litefoot’s, an awesome horrific reveal of an old character and the revelation that Sanders has his hands in far more than we were led to believe. The dialogue is as rich as a fine claret, Lisa Bowerman really aces the Victorian atmosphere and scares and the performances are top notch. I hate that these seasons are only 4 stories long as I really enjoy them and feel that they are over far too quickly but if less running time means this level of quality goes into what we do have then so much the better. Top notch: 9/10

The Theatre of Dreams: Innovative and unpredictable, Theatre of Dreams is a surreal and inventive piece of character drama that kept me guessing until the last scene. Its brilliant to be able to explore Jago & Litefoot’s dreams and nightmares because it allows us to get even closer to the characters. Jonathan Morris deconstructs the reality of theatre and makes insightful observations on the nature of dreams. It’s the standout story of this consistently excellent season and the best the series has been since The Bellova Doll. Expertly put together by Lisa Bowerman who keeps things gripping and unreliable whilst guiding us to the truth with some judicious editing. Subversive storytelling at its best, Theatre of Dreams is packed with great imagery and is one of the most audacious audio productions Big Finish have released: 10/10

The Ruthven Inheritance: All the pieces of season two come together satisfyingly like a gripping game of chess, The Ruthven Inheritance puts Jago & Litefoot through the wringer like never before and sees them come out stronger than ever. This adventure has several shocks and fantastically scary moments and an appetite-whetting scene that climaxes this year with a stylish flourish. Season two of Jago & Litefoot has been the most consistently excellent series Big Finish has yet produced and yet something tells me there is even better to come. If you enjoy these characters or simply like beautifully acted and crafted audio drama, go and listen now: 9/10


Dead Men’s Tales: A quiet opener for the series and probably my least favourite Justin Richards story yet featuring a simple mystery and a forgettable role for the most formidable combination in the annals of criminology! However this is still Jago & Litefoot we are talking about so there is a manifold of periphery elements that make this hugely fun to listen to. The new premise for the series is pleasingly reminiscent of Sapphire and Steel and suggests a stronger running arc throughout the series and the inclusion of Leela is every bit as entertaining as you could hope for. The first two series opened with a dramatic punch at the conclusion that had ramifications that spread through their respective season like wild fire and whilst Dead Men’s Tales lacks that there are some intriguing threads to be followed up all the same: 6/10

The Man at the End of the Garden: A Victorian fairytale with macabre undertones, this was much more my cup of Rosy Lee than the opening adventure and features some very well fleshed out guest characters as well as our regular cast. Matthew Sweet has always written deliciously effusive audio adventures and so he is perfectly suited to bring to life the voluminously verbose world of Jago & Litefoot. The story feels refreshingly original with some pleasing post modern and literate touches and the dialogue drips from the characters mouths like honey nectar. An intelligent story with some atmospheric Victorian references and delightful moments of Lewis Carroll storytelling, The Man at the End of the Garden sees Jago & Litefoot stepping up from supernatural adventures to something far more involving. Pushing the PJ Hammond feel of the series even further you will find touches of his Sapphire and Steel and Torchwood work suffused into this piece and keep an eye on the details of the story since they make the climax all the more rewarding and touching. The last scene will leave you hungry for more: 9/10

Swan Song: John Dorney knows how to make an instant impression and before the theme tune you’ll hear a tragic character tale and an extremely clever reversal of the usual supernatural shenanigans that proves this is going to be a very different sort of story. He plots the story in such a way that vital events that take place can be revealed before they happen making for a tense and foreboding experience. The fabric of reality is weakening, pantomime is taking on sinister undertones and time is manipulating events in a big way. Jago & Litefoot has without a doubt picked up Sapphire and Steel’s preternatural atmosphere and shrewdness and it feels like the series is opening out in a very exciting fashion. Add in a tear jerking conclusion and another impressive cliffhanger and this series gets better and better: 9/10

Chronoclasm: Time spillage, mysterious objects, unearthly voices, messages from the future and a real sense of cataclysmic threat enveloping our heroes, Chronoclasm opens as many doors as it closes. It provides a dramatic conclusion for this series of Jago & Litefoot whilst putting in motion some disturbing pieces for the next series too. This season finale offers murder and the possibility of hell breaking out on Earth and throughout there is an unsettling feeling of transition, as though nothing will ever be quite the same again. Andy Lane writes his strongest script since The Mahogany Murderers with one disturbing juxtaposition after another leading to a thrilling climax. Don’t make a deal with the devil because it will come back and demand its payment: 10/10

Read the full reviews here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/05/jago-litefoot-series-three.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/Jago-and-Litefoot-Series-Three-DOWNLOAD-Box-Set
http://www.bigfinish.com/Jago-and-Litefoot-Series-Three-CD-Box-Set

Jago in Love: After the experimental nature of series three we are back in the more comfortable, atmospheric ambiance of series one and two and it’s a winning formula that continues to please. With the added value of Leela and the spooky atmosphere of this series at its height, Jago in Love offers plenty of witty dialogue, jump out of your seat moments and a touching exploration of our favourite theatrical impresario under Cupid’s spell. With a trip to the seaside, the theatre and the funfair there are plenty of opportunities for Lisa Bowerman to immerse us in that glowing Victorian ambiance that the series flaunts so engagingly. The performances are as gorgeous as ever - its lovely to get to see the tender side of Christopher Benjamin, Louise Jameson fits this series like a glove now and delivers some pitch perfect observations and ripostes and Trevor Baxter gets the chance to play some chilling scenes as Litefoot in a very unusual role. Mirrors stealing souls, photographic skulduggery, disembodied voices, snarling beasts and possessed Professors…Jago & Litefoot is back and its at its entertaining best: 9/10

Beautiful Things: Beautiful Things is an example of business as usual in the world of Jago & Litefoot but I don’t mean that in a negative way because this is about as perfect a representation of this series as you could find. It’s a gorgeous homage to The Picture of Dorian Grey which starts out resembling the SJS audio The TAO Connection (a sick man, his male companion and young men dying by supernatural means) but soon becomes an enthralling mixture of labyrinthine concepts and artistic criticism with some delicious Sapphire and Steel ideas thrown in for good measure. What makes this so Mary Poppins (that’s practically perfect in every way) is that the essentials of this series are so strong and well realised by writer John Dorney they simply add the finishing touches of sublimity to an already sensational script. You’ve got the joyous coming together of Jago and Oscar Wilde, Claudius Dark making his presence felt more keenly, Leela continuing to shine in this setting with her animal instincts at their sharpest and Litefoot back to his investigative ways showing off his deductive skills and brilliance. The dialogue throughout is acuminous, the interplay between all the characters had me howling with laughter and imagination that has gone into creating library that eats peoples imaginations has to be applauded. The inclusion of Wilde ensures there are some intelligent comments about his work and reminds us that this period of history had its own memorably famous characters – I wonder which one the intrepid investigators will look up next? It’s a confident, polished production that could happily have slipped into any of the first three seasons with a little tweaking but that isn’t a bad thing. This isn’t generic Jago & Litefoot and yet Beautiful Things is the epitome of why the series continues to shine: 10/10

The Lonely Clock: Matthew Sweet and Jago & Litefoot are a match made in heaven. He came onto the scene in Gary Russell’s swansong, The Year of the Pig, and a lot of people found the verbose of the script and the luxurious sensuality of the story a bit too much to handle. Tether his hedonistic writing to the supernatural ingredients built into Jago & Litefoot and you automatically have something which is dripping with quality dialogue and is genuinely very spooky to listen to. Opening with an intriguing mystery and unsettling atmosphere and bringing this seasons villains out of hiding in a very permanent way, this is some very confident set up for the season finale. The more I hear of Leela on audio these days (and her three way split between Gallifrey, the 4th Doctor adventures and Jago & Litefoot means I am certainly not denied that pleasure) the more I find the character one of the most perfectly crafted to have leapt from classic Doctor Who. She works in past, present and future settings and Louise Jameson is fast becoming one of the most prolific and skilful actresses that Big Finish has on their payroll. This is her best turn yet in this series with Sweet giving her some magnificent dialogue and moments of ingenuity, charm and menace. The Lonely Clock also exposes how talented Lisa Bowerman has become in the directors chair of late. After the musical hall bawdiness of Jago in Love and the poetic sorrow of Beautiful Things she enforces an eerie quietness on the third adventure of the series that had me on edge throughout. It’s the same trick she employs in the best of her companion chronicles releases (the Sara Kingdom/Oliver Harper stories) and its astonishing how cutting out a noisy soundtrack (when that is all audio has to bring itself to life) and using the music and special effects sparingly can induce a feeling of anxiety. The Lonely Clock is another assured piece of storytelling that only loses points because it is inevitably the set up for an even better conclusion: 8/10

The Hourglass Killers: Its funny how certain things excite different people, isn’t it? For some going to see an important football match breaks them out in hives of enthusiasm, for others it is the latest novel from their favourite author. Nothing pleases me more (at least in fictional terms) when a series that I enjoy comes together to produce something so utterly delightful you just want to shout out from the rooftops. Whilst I could level that praise at this series (not season, series) as a whole the mere thought of an adventure in Victorian London with the sixth Doctor, Jago, Litefoot and Leela makes me so giddily energised I can barely control myself! What’s more The Hourglass Killers has a superb script that is packed full of moments of Justin Richard’s at his inventive and evocative best. The imagery alone is worth buying this set for but when you add in the witty dialogue, the chemistry between the actors and the fact that this is satisfyingly climactic culmination of five stories worth of build up it is practically untouchable. The ending takes the Jago & Litefoot in a fascinating and exciting new direction…talk about leaving me agog for the next season! Jago and Litefoot…travelling in the TARDIS! This series just gets better and better: 10/10

Full Reviews Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/jago-in-love-written-by-nigel-fairs-and.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/beautiful-things-written-by-john-dorney.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/lonely-clock-written-by-matthew-sweet.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/hourglass-killers-written-by-justin.html
Buy it from Big Finish here: http://bigfinish.com/releases/v/series-four-box-set-558

The Age of Revolution: With Jago, Litefoot, Ellie and Sacker all transferring from the old stomping ground of the Victorian age to the swinging sixties, the range manages to find itself a blissfully revolutionary home from home for a season. The main difference between this and another series that I have perhaps mentioned rather too much in this review that has in recent undergone a similar shift in tone and style is that Jago & Litefoot takes to its new setting like a duck to water and approaches the possibility of telling new kinds of stories with a joi de vivre that is impossible to resist. Jonathan Morris always writers something special for this range and doesn’t just adapt to the new setting but embraces it whole-heartedly taking in everything from sixties psychedelia (I detected traces of his awesome eleventh Doctor strip Forever Dreaming) to Avengers spy drama and Austin Powers style nostalgia. The Age of Revolution eases us into this new style gently with the clever use of narration to re-introduce to Jago, Litefoot and Ellie from the point of view of a character from this time period. Indeed the way that Sacker discovers the diaries of his grandfather explaining his involvement with the infernal investigators means that you could pick up this series without ever having listened to what came before. It mines a very different avenue of stories to Countermeasures despite taking place in the same time period (although a crossover might be great fun). This opening installment has a great deal of exposition to get out of the way so its not perhaps the most effective standalone adventure (there’s plenty of intelligent detail but the resolution is so pat its not really worth considering) but I’ll forgive it that because it attacks its central premise (moving the series forwards in time) with such gusto it is impossible not to get wrapped up in the atmosphere of the piece. The atmosphere and tone has changed but the structure of the stories (investigating imaginative ideas) has remained exactly the same. The same, but different. This is such a delightful departure from the norm I’m in two minds as to whether I want to return to the Victorian era…but I have three more adventures to get that out of my system. This series continues to be the crowning glory of Big Finish’s oeuvre: 9/10

The Case of the Gluttonous Guru: What a bizarre, macabre piece of work. This wont be to everyone tastes (very droll!) because it is completely over the top (‘peace upon your luncheon, Mama!’) and features some truly disgusting ideas but if you are willing to go with it then The Case of the Gluttonous Guru sees Jago & Litefoot dipping its toes into something completely different from the norm. Finally Jago has met his match…his own hunger and much of the comedy and drama revolves around his slow surrender to temptation. On a production level this is another superb installment with Howard Carter’s music standing out once again as something to be savoured. Carter above anyone else is taking advantage of the ranges new setting. The only story where the horror is a gastronomic nasty and one that builds from within and starts clawing its way out. It’s a freakish mixture of 60s kaleidoscopia and ribald humour (you’ve never had so many burps in a Big Finish adventure outside of Unbound’s Exile and bout of vomiting too) that generates it’s own unique nature (there will never be another story like this one, which you can’t say about every Jago & Litefoot adventure), but one that some parts of the audience might find uncomfortable. That’s a feeling I take pleasure in from fiction so I liked the freshness of tone but I couldn’t imagine an entire season of adventures in this vein. Enjoyable, but completely out there: 8/10

The Bloodchild Codex:  Is this really the same Colin Brake who wrote Three’s a Crowd? In the slot usually reversed for Matthew Sweet or John Dorney instead we have a writer who, at best, has produced pretty average stories in the past. More fool me for getting ahead of myself and assuming the worst. Not only is this the best standalone story of the season so far but it’s also the best plotted and contains some of the finest surprises. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Joseph! The way Ellie’s nature is weaved into the storyline adds depth to her character and both Jago and Litefoot are given plenty of consideration too, the former underwritten for a change to allow his gentler side to come out and the latter continuing the season five thread of the good Professor being a fish out of water in the sixties. The characterisation all round is nuanced and all three actors are responding well to shifts they have been asked to make. The two Doctor Who adventures that bridged seasons four and five are given some consideration too, with one McGuffin acquired by Jago starting to gain momentum as this series progresses. There hasn’t been a knockout adventure yet but season five is showing a run of form that easily matches previous years. Frankly this is infectious listening, and the cliffhanger is a doozy: 8/10

The Last Act: ‘Something of a Chinese puzzle, ay Professor?’ Like the opening installment, The Last Act is less of a standalone adventure and more like one last sniff of the weed-scented sixties air. At least initially. Considering line producer David Richardson has confirmed that the next three seasons will see Jago & Litefoot returning to the familiar atmosphere of pea soupers and bloody murder on the cobbles it is perhaps no bad thing to take in the sights one last time and relish the sheer entertainment that this setting has had to offer. Because we are so far removed from the smog bound setting that Talons of Weng-Chiang took place this is perhaps the perfect place to stage a sequel so at no point does it feel like it is stepping on the toes of this ranges’ progenitor. All the elements are present and correct (Mr Sin, Li’Sen Chang’s party tricks on stage, the House of the Dragon) but the new setting makes everything come alive in a very different way to Talons (perhaps that was the central reason for the change of time period – it might have felt more like a direct rip off in Victorian London). Respectful obeisance to the origins of these delightful characters rather than a direct rip off. There’s plenty for Jago, Litefoot, Ellie and Sacker to do and they have formed an engaging ensemble for the season and the mysterious Guinivere Godiva proves at last to be a villainess who is a victim of that most entertaining of Achilles’ heels, eschewing her previous charms for high camp. Bombshells explode with frequency and the concluding half of the story is furiously paced – The Final Act will fly by in no time at all. This season has been like taking one long drag on a succulent sixties spliff, making the world a brighter place and filling my head full of adventures that sing with witty wordplay and captivating curiosities. If you have been avoiding it because of the relocation then fear not, Jago & Litefoot is as wildly entertaining as ever: 9/10

Full Reviews Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-age-of-revolution-written-by.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-case-of-gluttonous-guru-written-by.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-bloodchild-codex-written-by-colin.html
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-last-act-written-by-justin-richards.html
Buy it from Big Finish here: http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/jago-litefoot-series-five-box-set-554

1 comment:

Sally O said...

Wasn't Sacker
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killed in Series 2?